Americans are waking up to this reality. That’s why they are occupying Wall Street, that’s why they are protesting in Madison,
“We are in the midst of a major economic crisis. Millions of Americans are jobless, our schools and infrastructure are under-resourced, our kids are being denied real educational opportunities and their futures are at risk. It’s no wonder that people are frustrated,” says American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, a featured speaker at the
The people get it, and unions and activist groups such as Progressive Democrats of America have been stepping up this weekend with dozens of events to the highlight the the issues from coast to coast.
But will Congress?
The answer will come, at least in part from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which in coming weeks will have to decide whether to maintain the broken priorities that created the current mess—or to reject them and get the country on track toward fiscal stabiliy and economic renewal.
If the bipartisan committee perpetuates the austerity agenda that is being demanded by the Republcans and conservative Democrats—and too frequently references as a touchstone by President Obama—the
That does not have to be the case.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is proposing a comprehensive plan to get the nation’s fiscal house in order while as the same time stabilizing the circumstance of social programs and spurring job growth. The CPC plan outlines $7 trillion in savings for the federal government and, just as critically, is proposes a new set of priorities that creates jobs, stabilizes communities and strengthens the social-safety net.
“It’s way past time to talk big or think big— it’s time to govern big and do what needs doing,” says CPC co-chair Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Arizona. “The American people are sick and tired of feeling too few in the government are responsive to their needs. While Republicans dither about cutting corporate taxes and dismantling Medicare, people are losing their homes, losing their jobs and losing their savings through no fault of their own. As a government, we need to look at ourselves and offer the country solutions that match the scope of the problems we face. Anything less is a waste of time.”
The CPC plan combines smart economics with a sound set of priorities.
It starts by finding the money the
Step One: Allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire and scrap irresponsible estate tax changes, saving $3.95 trillion over the next decade.
Step One: Engineer a responsible end to the wars in
Step Two: Enact a “Fairness in Taxation Act,” creating a millionaire tax that generates $872.5 billion.
Step Three: Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, saving $157.9 billion.
The CPC plan outlines numerous other proposals for raising revenues—including a financial transactions tax on speculators dealing in “exotic financial products”—and for using the savigs to assure the long-term stability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the CPC plan recognizes the importance of job creation as a deficit-reduction tool. “While Republican politicians are busy slashing good paying American jobs from our economy, the Progressive Caucus continues to put job creation first with serious proposals to rebuild
To that end, the caucus suggests that the supercommittee should include a job-creation component in its recommendations. To do that, the CPC recommends focusing on five initiatives:
1. Make it in
2. Rebuild America“With the cost of borrowing near zero, the construction industry flat on its back, and America’s decrepit infrastructure not only a competitive burden, but a threat to lives and safety, there is no better time to launch a major initiative to rebuild America. Create a national investment bank to leverage private capital and ensure that major projects are determined by merit, not by political muscle. Rebuild our half century old roads, bridges, locks and dams, while spurring creation of the roads of the future by connecting and empowering our country with fiber optic cable.”
3. Jobs for the Next Generation“There is no shortage of work to be done in
4. Lead the Green Industrial RevolutionA centerpiece of our economic strategy must be to create good jobs now by capturing the lead in the industrial revolution that is sweeping the world—starting with clean energy, electric cars, and efficient appliances. We need to invest in research and innovation so that
5. Not Just Jobs— Good Jobs“American workers want good American jobs, not poverty level wages without benefits that make it impossible to support a family or save for the future. We can start by making sure that middle-class Americans are free to organize and have a voice and a seat at the table again. If corporations can join together to hire an army of lobbyists, working Americans must come together and use their strength in numbers to protect the rights of middle class Americans. We must ensure that businesses obey our labor laws and reward those that create good paying American jobs that protect our rights to equal opportunity and equal pay. Programs like TANF ECF have been proven to put people to work. While, we work on building these good jobs, we must ensure the long-term unemployed receive the full assistance and services they need so they can continue contributing to the economy.”
The supercommittee will, undoubtedly explore, and potentially embrace, a lot of bad ideas.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has come up with the right response to all of them:
“With the supercommittee, the Republicans have manufactured yet another budget crisis,” says CPC Budget Task Force Chair Michael Honda, D-California. “We can ‘go big’ and address our budget deficits by allowing the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts to expire and ending our unpaid-for wars on schedule. Anyone who says we need to cut education, cut the social safety net, cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare or provide more tax cuts to the rich, is pushing a political agenda, not sound fiscal policy.”
This story originally appeared in The Nation.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs